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Wagner ex-commander sorry for fighting in Ukraine

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Oslo –

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, who fled to Norway, told Reuters he wanted to apologize for the fighting in Ukraine and spoke out to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

Andrei Medvedev, who crossed the Russian-Norwegian border on January 13, said he witnessed Wagner’s murder and mistreatment of Russian prisoners. taken to ukraine Fight for your group.

26-year-old Medvedev said in an interview, “Many people think of me as a rogue, a criminal and a murderer.” but i want to say sorry.

“Yes, I served Wagner. There are some moments[in my story]that people don’t like, but I didn’t participate at all, but no one is born smart.”

Medvedev added, “I decided to speak out to ensure that perpetrators are punished in specific cases.”

He cited one incident in which he said he witnessed two unwilling to fight shot dead in front of newly released prisoners registered with Wagner.

Asked about other incidents he witnessed, he said he could not comment at this stage due to the ongoing Norwegian police investigation into war crimes.

Reuters could not immediately confirm his claims.

Kripos, the Norwegian National Criminal Police Service responsible for investigating war crimes, began questioning Medvedev about his experiences in Ukraine.

He stands as a witness and has no suspicions other than illegal border crossings. Medvedev said he had nothing to hide from the police, adding: “I have not committed any crimes. I was just a fighter.”

Wagner’s group said Medvedev worked for Wagner’s “Norwegian unit” and “abused prisoners.”

“Be careful, he is very dangerous,” the group said in an emailed statement to Reuters, with founder Evgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, about Medvedev. I repeated my previous comment.

Wagner’s forces are engaged in a bloody war of attrition with Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

In Wagner, Medvedev said that he led the platoon and received orders from the platoon leader to plan the combat mission. He said he had seen “courageous actions from both sides”.

Medvedev said he fears someone on his side will execute him at any moment.

“The most terrifying thing is to realize that there are people who think of themselves as compatriots who may come and kill you, either immediately or on someone’s orders,” he said. “Your own people. That was probably the scariest thing.”

Medvedev left Wagner when his four-month contract expired, despite being told by his superiors that he had to serve longer, he said.

Medvedev fled Russia last month across the Arctic border, climbing barbed wire fences, dodging border guards with dogs, Russian guards running through forests and crossing the frozen river that separates the two countries. He said he heard gunfire over.

From Orphan to Joining Wagner

Medvedev was born in the Tomsk region of Siberia. He said he was placed in an orphanage around the age of 12 after his mother died and his father went missing.

He said he was drafted into the Russian army in 2014 at the age of 18 and served in the Ulyanovsk-based 31st Airborne Brigade.

“That was the first deployment in Donbass,” Medvedev added, without giving further details.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after the pro-Russian president was overthrown in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and Russia annexed Crimea. Meanwhile, the Russian-backed separatists in Donbass, consisting of Donetsk and Luhansk, sought to break away from Kyiv’s rule.

Medvedev has served multiple prison terms, including for robbery, and decided to join the Wagner Group in July 2022 when he was last released from prison.

Medvedev said he was not drafted straight out of prison, but decided to enlist because he realized he would likely be drafted into the Russian regular army.

He signed a four-month contract with a monthly salary of about 250,000 rubles ($3,575). He crossed over to Ukraine on his July 16th and fought near Bakhmut, he said.

“It was a mess. The roads to Artemovsk were strewn with corpses of soldiers.”

A cemetery was discovered in southern Russia where prisoners recruited by Wagner to fight in Ukraine were buried, according to a special report released by Reuters last week.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, Janis Laizans and Gwladys Fouche of Oslo; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Leslie Adler and Frances Kerry)

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